Unicredit, a debt collection company in Eerie, Pennsylvania, had employees dress up as sheriff’s deputies and serve people a fake court summons. Then the company had set up a fake court, complete with a fake judge, to intimidate people into making payments, giving bank account access, or hand over vehicle titles or other assets. Sometimes a Unicredit employee was even sent to the home to collect the documents or have the person sign a payment agreement.
The “courtroom” was actually just an office in town but contained typical furniture and a layout you would expect to see in a courtroom, including a raised area for the judge and two “benches” for the defendants and attorneys.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General has, rightfully, brought charges against Unicredit.
However, as outrageous as this case is, it’s only different from the “average” tactics used by debt collectors by the scale of the charade. Debt collectors often use intimidation and exaggeration to mislead people. They count on consumers not knowing their rights and lack of experience in dealing with the legal system. Also, the more urgent a debt collector sounds when he contacts you, chances are that he’s trying to fluster you and keep you from slowing down and asking yourself, and him, practical questions.
Dana Wilkinson, author of the article, reminds people that:
The most important and most practical advice is to go see an attorney. If you’re being threatened with legal action, an attorney can tell you what really can (and can’t) happen. If you’ve already been intimidated or scammed into giving up something you shouldn’t have, an attorney can tell you how to redress the situation. An attorney can also help you come up with a plan for addressing persistent credit problems, explain your options, and tell you what you can do about it. Knowledge is power, and it is the best, and most effective weapon you can have in protecting yourself from scam artists of all kinds–even the ones you owe.
If you have had problems with debt collectors, or have been harassed by one, and have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us through our website or by calling 205-879-2447.
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